Drone Licence

If you are planning on using a drone for profit or for business purposes, you will need to get a drone licence from a Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) approved provider.

LICENCE Name

Drone Licence

AUTHORITY

Civil Aviation Authority (CAA)

TIME TO GET LICENCED 2 weeks
COST £1000
VALID FOR 12 months
ELIGIBILITY 18+ years
QUALIFICATION(S) NEEDED Permission for Commercial Operation (PfCO)
STEPS
1 Enrol onto a CAA approved drone training course
2 Seek permission from the Civil Aviation Authority
Submit requested documentation
Ops Manual
Insurance
National Qualified Entity (NQE) full recommendation or equivalent qualification
3 Acquire Permission for Commercial Operation (PfCO)
Get Licenced

Find Your Course

What is a drone licence?

While technically not a licence, permission is still required to use a drone for reasons of profit and business.

This permission is known as PfCO (Permissions for Commercial Operations) and is required to operate a drone safely in UK airspace for business and profit reasons.

An PfCO is granted through partaking in a CAA drone training course from a CAA approved trainer. Once you’ve partaken in the training, you will then need to complete both a practical and theory test to be granted your ‘license’.

During the course you will have to demonstrate to the Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) that you are capable of operating a drone according to PfCO safety standards.

This includes compilation of an operations manual and providing evidence of pilot competency This is broken into three critical elements:

Adequate theoretical knowledge / general airmanship.

Successful completion of a practical flight assessment on the class of SUA that is being applied for.

A minimum amount of recent flying experience on the class of SUA that is being applied for.

What is a PfCO?

A Permission for Commercial Operation (PfCO) is the legal document you need to operate a drone commercially in UK airspace. While not officially certified as a licence, the PfCO acts as the legal requirement needed to operate a drone for profit or for business purposes. Until August 2016 this was known as a Permission for Aerial Work (PFAW).

Permissions from the CAA are valid for up to 12 months and are subject to an annual renewal. 

Standard Permission

This enables a person to conduct commercial operations with a small unmanned aircraft (drone) and also permits drones weighing 20kg or less to be operated within a congested area.

Non-Standard Permission

This covers all other types of flight and addresses operations that contain a greater element of operating risk.

Commercial Pilot Insurance

In the UK, it is a legal requirement that commercial drone pilots are insured with EC785/2004 complaint insurance at the time of flight. This means that the absolute minimum requirement is about £1,000,000 public liability. To operate in some environments, you might require up to £10,000,000.

How to apply for a Drone Licence

Once you have passed the relevant drone training only then will you be able to seek permission from the Civil Aviation Authority.

To obtain permission you must process an application. This can be done via the Official CAA Website.

During the application process the following information will be required:

Ops Manual

Insurance

National Qualified Entity (NQE) full recommendation or equivalent qualification 

FAQs

No. You do not need a license to own a drone. However, you will need to ensure that it’s registered to a named owner.
Permissions from the CAA are valid for up to 12 months and are subject to an annual renewal. 
Drone technology is becoming increasingly beneficial in providing a range of business solutions to customers. Undertaking the necessary training needed to qualify for a PfCO can offer a significant advantage to companies looking to take advantage of drone technology.
Anyone over the age of 18 and who wants to fly a drone for commercial gain can obtain a drone licence.
Yes. There are two tests to take as part of your PfCO training, a theory test and a flight test. Once these have been passed you will be recommended to the CAA to receive your PfCO drone licence.
An Operations Manual explains to the CAA how you will conduct yourself when you are out working commercially while operating a drone.
No. You won't have to do a drone course again but there are renewal fees to the CAA, including any ongoing insurance costs.
No. If you don’t plan on selling the imagery or using it for commercial gain then a drone licence is not necessary.
Yes. Wherever you obtain your licence in the UK, you can use it in any one of England, Wales, Scotland or Northern Ireland.